|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Child development Social media Depression Anxiety disorder|
Recent years have witnessed unprecedented advancement in technology. While this has made life more comfortable, it has also led to various physical, social, and psychological problems. For instance, research has established a relationship between the use of social media and the development of depression and anxiety among teenagers. In the recent past, social media has recorded rapid growth and has infiltrated every sphere of human life. It is argued that social media has colonized human beings to the extent of being entirely oblivious of their surroundings (Primack et al. 4). Social media, which includes platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and WhatsApp, has become a virtual environment in which people, especially teenagers, are living. Studies have shown that the use of social media among teenagers can affect their social, emotional, and mental health. In light of this, the effects of increased social media use among teenagers will be discussed in this paper.
Social Media, Depression and Anxiety
There is a notable difference between the current young generation and the earlier generations. The current generation is spending more time on their smartphones connecting with people they do not know personally. While social media is meant to make people connected and more social, research has indicated that social media users are more likely to suffer from depression and less emotionally satisfied. This makes them feel isolated (Primack et al. 6). Therefore, social media has minimal benefits for teenagers. Instead, it makes them superficial in the sense that they rarely connect on a personal level. Resultantly, they feel isolated.
An exception has been made among those who use social media intensely but also keep a personal face-to-face interaction. They are less likely to go into a depression, unlike those who have superficial personal interaction. The teenagers who are not able to successfully connect with their peers, feel isolated, which affects their relations at home, in school, and their social environment (Richards et al. 1156). They fail to relate to others properly, and if given a chance, they do not know how to go about it. Other than the internal symptoms of depression and anxiety, the teenagers also display external manifestations such as aggression and several other antisocial behaviors.
Social media is a dominant factor that is magnifying the already existing problem among teenagers who are trying to fit in with their peers. Most people, especially on social media platforms like Instagram, want to show off how well they look, what they possess or have done. Resultantly, those who cannot afford similar lifestyles go into depression or develop anxiety problems (Twenge et al. 11). People rarely post their negative sides. Therefore, some teenagers feel as if something is wrong in their lives if they cannot attend concerts and other events like their peers on social media. The comparison makes them feel unsatisfied with their lives and left out. This, in turn, leads to the development of depression.
Research has shown that excessive use of social media endangers the teenagers' social skills. Social skills do entail more than just the use of words in a written manner but include how one reads and responds to one's body language, understanding the vocal tone used by the other person and knowing how to react (Twenge et al., 2018 p16). Teenagers who use social media more than they engage in personal interactions are bound to be inadequate in these essential communication skills. Resultantly, their interactions with people, even later in life, will be flawed. The lack of adequate communication skills also affects teenagers' relationships with adults in their lives, such as parents, elder siblings, and other relatives. The teenage years are usually chaotic, and a teenager might feel lost. The presence of an adult to guide them through the phase is, therefore, critical. However, due to their poor interaction skills, they are unable to share their challenges or even ask for advice from adults. Often, they seek answers from the internet, which could be misleading.
Mental health is a complex system in which a single stressor may not result in depression or anxiety. Instead, research has shown it to be caused by many factors (Richards et al. 1154). A combination of life problems and the effects of excessive use of social media may affect one's mental health as one grows older. Since a variety of content is found on social media, the effect on one's mental health depends on the content they consume. Unfortunately, since teenagers lack sufficient information on what affects them, in what way, they are at a greater risk. Therefore, guidance is critical in preventing the adverse effects of social media among teenagers.
Social Media and Self-esteem
The perceived isolation among teenagers or rather the people using social media platforms to communicate rather than having a deep, empathic interaction affects their self-esteem. Girls are more affected than boys since they compare themselves with their peers on social media more. Often, the comparison makes them feel uglier or fatter than the prettier and thinner images they see on social media. They also get the perception that to be prosperous and famous, they must be thinner and lighter (Woods et al. 43). Unfortunately, the prettier images they desire online are products of photoshop and extensive makeup. Failure to distinguish what is real from what is posted online can significantly affect their self-confidence a great deal.
Image driven posts have, therefore, made teenagers feel more anxious about themselves, depressed, and worried about their body images (Woods et al. 46). The 'perfect' image makes teenagers feel inadequate. Depression has also been linked to teenagers' failure to participate in physical activity or learn other new life skills that would positively impact their lives and develop their talents (Shensa et al. 116). The new generation of kids is spending most of their time on social media and not getting many benefits from it. Other than the dopamine they get while on social media, such as when their peers like their posts, they have less time to build their self-confidence, as well as gain a sense of accomplishment and connectedness.
Excessive use of social media platforms has also been associated with other health problems, such as sleep deprivation. Often, teenagers use their devices until late into the night. Their sleep patterns are also affected by the long hours spent on the internet. Sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor to the development of depression and anxiety disorders. The light from the phones emits blue rays that interfere with their sleep patterns. The various social media platforms have been, therefore, linked to the increased psychological morbidity among the young. Besides, their productivity is affected by the deprivation of sleep.
Minimizing the effects of social media on teenagers
Despite the lack of substantial evidence to support the connotation that social media affect the psychological status of teenagers, there are plenty of signs that imply that excessive use of social media negatively affects the upcoming generation. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the parents and guardians to take control of the situation in guiding their teens in the right direction (Shensa et al. 118). Making them aware of the effects of excessive use of social media can help in preventing them from going into depression or developing anxiety. They ought to be taught of mindful ways of using social media, be able to differentiate reality from what is virtual on social media, among measures (Twenge et al. 8).
The parents and guardians should also be alert of the warning signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety development. They should take such signs seriously and immediately seek help such before it develops to dangerous stages. There should also be other forms of clinical interventions as well as enhancement of self-awareness through education. The tools used in the management of depression and anxiety tools should also be recommended for the teenage social media users as well as their parents/guardians. Where the parents have assessed found out that the symptoms of depression and anxiety exhibited by their children is beyond their management knowledge and skills, they should seek professional help.
In conclusion, the relationship between the excessive use of social media and mental health among teenagers is multifaceted. Despite the lack of enough research that supports the association between excessive use of social media and psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety among teenagers, studies have indicated various harmful effects of the same. Teenagers are unable to distinguish the real from unreal on social media. Resultantly, they strive to match standards set by their peers on sure media, even when they are not real. This leads to low self-esteem and a feeling of inadequacy among teenagers. In the long run, it results in depression and anxiety. The discussion has also shown that excessive social media use affects teenagers' communication skills hence affecting the quality of their later lives. In light of these effects, concerted efforts must be targeted at educating teenagers on the dangers of excessive use of social media.
Primack, Brian A., et al. "Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults." Computers in human behavior 69 (2017): 1-9.
Richards, Deborah, Patrina HY Caldwell, and Henry Go. "Impact of social media on the health of children and young people." Journal of paediatrics and child health 51.12 (2015): 1152-1157.
Shensa, Ariel, et al. "Social media use and depression and anxiety symptoms: A cluster analysis." American journal of health behavior 42.2 (2018): 116-128.
Twenge, Jean M., et al. "Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among US adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time." Clinical Psychological Science 6.1 (2018): 3-17.
Woods, Heather Cleland, and Holly Scott. "# Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem." Journal of adolescence 51 (2016): 41-49.
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